Summary: This sermon explains how to cope when bad things happen to you.
How do you respond when bad things happen to you? Sometimes we are depressed. Sometimes we are destroyed. Sometimes we prosper. God gives us a model for handling bad things. This model was displayed by the apostle Paul. It is found in Philippians 1:12. "The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." Paul was in bondage. He was in chains. Bad things were happening to him. However, these things were used of God to strengthen Paul. Paul saw the silver lining in his trials. We can learn from him. I give you a simple outline to guide our thoughts.
I. Some things happen to you.
II. Some things happen in you.
III. Some things happen through you.
This is God’s plan in the life of a believer.
I. All of us have things that happen to us. Notice Paul’s list of grievances.
A. Paul faced rejection. He refers to his "chains... in Christ." (vs. 13) In order for Paul to be in chains meant that somebody did not like him.
B. Paul faced disappointment. Paul refers to those who "preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will."(vs. 15) Obviously Paul was disappointed that some preached Christ with wrong motives.
C. Paul faced death. He recognized that his imprisonment could result in "life or death."
D. Paul faced delay. He said "I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly." Do you ever face delay in your plans?
Rejection, disappointment, death, and delay were Paul’s trials. Those things were happening to him. What is happening to you?
II. This raises the second part of our discussion. What is happening in us? There were some special things happening in Paul.
A. He was drawn closer to Christ. In verse 13 he refers to his chains being "in Christ." In verse 19 he refers to "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
B. He treasured God’s promises more clearly. In verse 21 Paul says "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." When bad things happen to us we tend to claim God’s promises with greater clarity.
III. The final part of this equation is the things that happen through us. God wants to use bad things to work a work through us in helping others.
A. One work that God accomplishes is that others are encouraged. Paul said "most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (vs. 14) Other believers were given courage because of Paul’s courage.
Illustration: My wife went through a serious depression some years ago. As God healed her of that struggle she claimed II Cor. 1:4 as God’s verse for her. God "comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
B. Another work God accomplishes through us is that new areas are pioneered. "The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." The gospel was sent into new regions. Not only does the gospel go into new regions geographically but it also accomplishes new results in our lives.
C. The greatest work God accomplishes is that Jesus is glorified. Paul said "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The greatest accomplishment of trials is that Jesus can be glorified through us.
You may be going through some difficult days. God wants to do a work through you in the midst of the trials. It can be done. Be encouraged!